Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Leper and the King

It should have been cut-and-dried. Case closed. The end. Gehazi, the man of the man of God who had chased after his own benefit at the healing of Naaman, had become afflicted with the healed man's leprosy and, according to Israelite law, should have been cut off right then and there. Excommunicated. Out of the community for having betrayed the community. 

But flip forward a few pages, two measly chapters in the book of 2 Kings, and we see Gehazi standing before the king - yes, the king - giving an account of all the wondrous things that the prophet had done. 

Not only that, but as he is standing there telling the story of how Elisha once raised a young boy from the dead, the boy's mother (who has been living in a distant land for several years on the advice of the prophet) comes into the king's presence to request her land back. And now, it is the king, a woman, and the leprous man of the man of God all standing together talking about all the incredible things that God does and the real human impact of those things. 

How does this even happen? One word: mercy.

The man of the man of God had gotten what he deserved. There's not an argument he could have made to declare that he wasn't deserving of the leprosy that God inflicted upon him. He had, after all, used a healing to try to line his own pockets. He had, after all, defied the prophet's choice in not taking any gift for it. He had, after all, defied his place, his position. He had, after all, broken community. The list of Gehazi's sin in this one encounter is great, and the consequences are fitting. This should have been the end of that. We should have been done hearing of Gehazi.

And let's be honest - that would have satisfied our human nature. Wouldn't it? Most of us would have nodded and said yes, the man of the man of God got exactly what he deserved. He should never have tried to take advantage of the situation. He tried to get himself ahead, and he ended up having a major falling out. Serves him right. 

But let's be honest about this, too - most of us miss this whole thing. We read in 2 Kings 6 about Gehazi's leprosy, but by 2 Kings 8, we've forgotten it. He's just Gehazi again. It's natural for us to be reading about the man of the man of God in the presence of the king, and our focus kind of shifts to the king, who is asking questions about the prophet. All of a sudden, two measly chapters later, we have more of a vested interest in the king who is asking good questions about God than we do the leper who is standing before him telling God's tales. 

Oh, Lord, let us never forget he was a leper. 

Because Gehazi's story is our story. It's so many of our stories. Who among us hasn't done just what Gehazi did - take advantage of our position to try to get something for ourselves? Forget the value of the healing except in what it can be exchanged for? Defy the orders of a superior and sacrifice our honor for a few measly sets of clothes to cover our nakedness? It's what we're all trying to do - cover our nakedness. 

Who among us does not deserve, right now, to be a leper, and for the very same reasons that Gehazi's skin turned betrayously white? 

But we, even we, stand in the presence of the King, telling the stories that only God could have given us to tell. We are the ones who recount His marvelous works, His incredible wonders. We are the ones to give the report.

And at just the right time, though we ought to be cut off from it entirely by nature of our own sin, our community comes and stands in the same presence and says, it's true. It's all true. The leper tells the truth. 

The the presence of the King....

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